Professor of Enterprise and Director of the Leeds Enterprise Centre
at the University of Leeds.

Electrifying ideas: Deregulation lights up new opportunities

February 14th, 2010

Back in 1989 the UK Government passed the Electricity Act that was, over the course of the next decade, to transform a monopoly into a dynamic market supplying electricity to commercial and domestic consumers. The intention was to allow customers to purchase their electricity from a range of competing providers, albeit still distributed over the national grid, thereby increasing competitive forces and reducing prices. Intuitively we think of large corporations like E.ON (www.eon.com) and Scottish Power (www.scottishpower.com) competing in such a large established market rather than smaller providers, let alone new ones.

Juliet Davenport saw no barriers to meeting this challenge head on when starting Good Energy (www.goodenergy.co.uk), which only supplies electricity generated by 100% renewable sources. This ethical company employed over 50 people and had annual turnover of more than £12m (The Times, 08/06/2009) but how was this achieved in only 10 years? Juliet had a clear vision that she was able to share with investors, independent generators and consumers, which was based on a set of clear values linked to fighting climate change … “We see our customers going on a journey, switching to Good Energy are the first part” (www.youtube.com). In addition to its own wind farm in Cornwall, Good Energy has developed a growing community of over 500 independent renewable electricity generators in the UK.  More than 25,000 homes and businesses across the UK switched to Good Energy (www.goodenergygroup.co.uk) so Juliet’s clarity of vision of saving 1 million tonnes of carbon a year paid dividends with both independent generators and consumers buying into it.

So, switching to Good Energy could be your valentine to the planet!

Dr Nigel Lockett
Director of Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (CEIM)
www.bradford.ac.uk/ceim
www.nigellockett.com

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A gem of a report: The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor

February 2nd, 2010

It can sometimes be difficult to see impact from entrepreneurship research – not necessarily because of poor quality or lack of relevance but simply because it can take so long to disseminate findings. Publishing in peer-reviewed journals is notoriously difficult and slow – typically 18 to 24 months. So have can high quality evidence-based research be disseminated quickly? Firstly, by publishing in conference proceedings, like the one run by the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE www.isbe.org.uk) now in its 32nd year, which can take less than 6 months from abstract submission to appearing proceedings. Secondly, by self-publishing on the internet. But how can the reader be sure the research is high quality if it is not peer-reviewed?

In the end I’m afraid it comes back to ‘brand’. We develop relationships with our brands, built up over time and through establishing trust. So if you are looking for high quality entrepreneurship research why not start with the top global brand – Babson College (http://www3.babson.edu). The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is the largest and longest-standing globally focused entrepreneurship research project.

The recently published GEM 2009 Global Report’s key findings include:
1. Attitudes towards entrepreneurship vary widely across the world. Fear of failure is a significant barrier (in Japan) but some can entrepreneurs have a high status (in Denmark).
2. There is a decline the number of early-stage entrepreneurs and evidence that more existing entrepreneurs are stopping their activities.
3. In terms of creating new jobs only 14% expected to create 20 or more jobs. This might be because of increased employment protection or that successful entrepreneurs consider employment more attractive that developing their own business.
4. The impact of the recession meant that over 50% of entrepreneurs felt it was more difficult to start a new business in 2009 and that more experienced ones tended to be the most pessimistic.
5. Venture capital activity in the US and Europe fell significantly yet increased in China were funds will soon overtake those in Europe.

Now in its 11th year and with over 200 researchers involved, the project sets the standard for others – provided it continues to produce gems!

Dr Nigel Lockett
Director of Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (CEIM)
www.bradford.ac.uk/ceim
www.nigellockett.com

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